Air Power Delusions
An excellent article in this week's The Economist: Air Power - An Enduring Illusion. The article is worth reading when one considers recent events in Lebanon with Israel's ill-conceived use of air power, addressed in an earlier blog post by myself (The Iranian Threat - Puhleeeeeeeze) and American expectations in just about every war it has participated in since WW II.
Right now the only military service in the Pentagon that embraces military action against Iran's nuclear program is ... you guessed it, the U.S. Air Force! I addressed this in U.S. Military: One Up, One Down which covers The New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh which talks about the administrations maneuvers to obtain backing to do "something" about Iran's nuclear program. What's the likelihood that any Air Force, U.S. or not, could wipe out an Iranian nuclear program? Just about zero. What's the likelihood, after doing such a thing, that the Iranian people would opt to overthrow their government and decide that America is the light it needs to follow, especially after we bombed the hell out of their nuclear program? You guessed it, just about zero. After the rubble was cleared, the and the dead buried, what's the likelihood that Iran would indeed go after a nuclear weapon, and in fact be successful in getting one? I'll hazard to say significantly greater than 0, in fact I'd say the odds are pretty darn good. So what would be the point of bombing Iran's nuclear progam? You got me ...
There are few instances anyone can point to where air power has carried the day in a war, and none of any significance where this has happened when faced with a guerrilla war. But the technologically advanced countries of the world repeatedly convince themselves that they can solve their problems with precision guided munitions dropped by stealth bombers or whatever else you can attach a bomb to. The hubris attached to that kind of thinking, in the face of historical evidence to the contrary, is hard to understand, but it also brings to mind a paraphrase of a comment I remember from a book by Michael Ignatieff, which is that the west seems to have an inclination to fight a war with all of its clever machines, but not have its own people die for one - we'll leave that to those we bomb, in the end for little to gain beyond really pissing off a lot of people we could well enough do without pissing off.